DoD Funded Research Suggests McCain's "Faith Based" Approach Would Increase Terrorism
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Mar 15, 2008 at 03:24:54 PM EST
According to John McCain, America is at war with "radical Islamic extremism", a struggle he says could last fifty, a hundred or even a thousand years but research by world expert on suicide terrorism Robert A. Pape undercuts the senator's premise and suggests McCain's "faith based" approach could increase the incidence of terrorism which, Pape's research shows, is linked most strongly not to religion but nationalism. Below: 1/2 hour interview with University of Chicago researcher Robert A. Pape, author of Dying To Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism :

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, in a groundbreaking effort to understand the forces driving suicide terrorism which was partly funded by the US Department of Defense, Robert A. Pape of the University of Chicago dropped his prior research, into the effective uses of air power in warfare, and began to amass what became the world's largest database on suicide terrorism. Pape wrote up his conclusions, on what drives such acts, in a 2005 book, "Dying To Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism". Pape says he has briefed "40 out of 535" of the senators and representatives on Capitol Hill, as well as members of the Department of Defense and The NSA on his conclusion: religion is not the primary cause of suicide terrorism, nationalism is.

Here is a link to a one hour, in depth interview with Robert A. Pape, by Harry Kreisler, at the University of California at Berkeley February 16, 2006 . For transcripts of interview relevant to suicide terrorism see here and here


[Robert A. Pape] "It's terribly important to directly attack the terrorist organizations, because obviously we want to impede their ability to attack us in the short term, but as we do that it's also possible that we can overreact, it's also possible that we can do many things that we're not even paying close attention to, to actually deepen the anger that, at bottom, is what's causing the walk-in volunteers in the first place. If we're not careful about that, then we can end up easily making the problem worse.

I'm afraid that since 9/11 we have made the problem worse. Since 9/11, al Qaeda has carried out over seventeen suicide and other terrorist attacks, killing nearly 700 people. That's more attacks and more victims than all the years before 9/11 combined. Yes, it's true they have not hit the American homeland, but we now know why. We have a key al Qaeda strategy document.

In September 2003, al Qaeda published a forty-two-page document on radical websites for how to deal with the United States after we went into Iraq. It was later found by Norwegian intelligence, by the way, and is still sitting on the Norwegian intelligence website. That document says that al Qaeda should not seek to attack the American homeland in the short term but instead should focus on hitting America's allies, allies who sent combat forces with us to Iraq or Afghanistan."

During an August 1, 2007 speech at Stanford University Senator John McCain declared, "The transcendent challenge of the 21st Century is the challenge of radical Islamic extremism... we're are going to have to a lot better job in countering the spread of this evil that wants to destroy everything that we stand for and believe in. So our challenge in the 21st Century against this radical Islamic extremism, you notice I avoid the phrase "war on terror" but it is a struggle between good and evil..."

In speeches to every sort of audience and in contexts both religious and secular, over and over again, John McCain has hammers away at the point. A new McCain campaign ad takes this to new propagandistic heights by pairing excerpts from McCain speeches with writings by Teddy Roosevelt and speeches by Winston Churchill, whose recorded voice begins the ad, to sped-up footage of clouds whizzing by then grainy films of Churchill : "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender." McCain's voice then follows with, "We're Americans, we're Americans and we'll never surrender - they will." The ad does not specify who "they" are supposed to be, but that's hardly necessary because John McCain has stated it countless times on the 2008 campaign trail : Muslims, lots and lots of 'em.[below: McCain campaign's "Churchill" ad ("The Man in The Arena")]

Robert A. Pape's research has been circulated in the Pentagon since 2003 and "Dying To Win" has been out for over two years now. One would reasonably expect a leading presidential candidate to bother to learn a little about the subject area his presidential bid is predicated on.  
Pape's research directly contradicts the main thrust of John McCain's presidential bid and, by extension, either McCain's competence or his sincerity.

But, the American mainstream seems strangely immune to Pape's message and one of the few media outlets to pick up on Pape's work, back in 2005, was the American Conservative Magazine which interviewed Pape who described his conclusions based on the comprehensive data profile he's gathered, with the help of teams of University of Chicago graduate students:

[Robert Pape] This wealth of information creates a new picture about what is motivating suicide terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism is not as closely associated with suicide terrorism as many people think. The world leader in suicide terrorism is a group that you may not be familiar with: the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

This is a Marxist group, a completely secular group that draws from the Hindu families of the Tamil regions of the country. They invented the famous suicide vest for their suicide assassination of Rajiv Ghandi in May 1991. The Palestinians got the idea of the suicide vest from the Tamil Tigers.

TAC: So if Islamic fundamentalism is not necessarily a key variable behind these groups, what is?

RP: The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign--over 95 percent of all the incidents--has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

TAC: That would seem to run contrary to a view that one heard during the American election campaign, put forth by people who favor Bush's policy. That is, we need to fight the terrorists over there, so we don't have to fight them here.

RP: Since suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism, the use of heavy military force to transform Muslim societies over there, if you would, is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists coming at us.

below - audio from John McCain's August 1, 2007 speech at Stanford University

this is a great diary -- i am learning more every day. thanks for your efforts.

by peg1 on Sun Mar 16, 2008 at 06:40:13 AM EST
Best, Bruce W

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Mar 16, 2008 at 04:20:04 PM EST

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